Bishopville’s historic mayoral election: Hear from the incumbent, meet the candidate

Published: Apr. 20, 2023 at 11:57 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

BISHOPVILLE, S.C. (WIS) - Two men are turning to the 2,030 registered voters of Bishopville to decide the city’s future ahead of a historic mayoral race.

A 57-year age gap separates the incumbent from the registered candidate, as well as two drastically different plans for the next four years.

First on the ballot is 77-year-old Grady A. Brown, the sitting mayor of Bishopville who ran for the position unopposed in 2019. He originally ran as a one-term mayor.

Grady was first elected to Lee County Council after opening a barbershop in Bishopville in the early 1970s. He was 28 years old.

After two terms on County Council, Brown went on to serve 32 years in the South Carolina House of Representatives before retiring in 2016.

He said he’s seeking re-election after all six members of the city council convinced him to run for mayor again.

“We have a weak mayor and strong counsel form of government. This council has worked together so cohesively, it’s unreal. We’ve had one split vote in three years and nine months. Every other vote has been unanimous. And this council has accomplished so much, it would take me a while to tell you all the things that this council has accomplished,” said Brown during an interview at Town Hall.

Brown said the city received a $400,000 grant to install a public swimming pool just last year. He told WIS he’s most excited about this incoming project, as it’s something Lee County has never had in his lifetime.

Brown’s opponent in the upcoming election is a 20-year-old businessman, community activist and online college student named Luke D. Giddings.

“Yes, I’m young and I have a lot to learn. And that’s why I’m doing this… because I want to learn a lot, too. I want to do the best I can, where I can, with everything that I can,” said Giddings in one of his storefronts on Main St.

If Giddings wins, he said he’ll be the youngest elected official in Lee County history, the youngest mayor in South Carolina history, and the fourth youngest mayor in the nation.

In two decades’ time, he’s served as Secretary of the Lee County Lions Club, Member of the City Zoning Commission, and deacon of his church.

Above all, Giddings said he’s most proud of serving as President of Lee County Shared Hope (LCSH), a 501(c)(3) non-profit which opened the county’s first-ever homeless shelter this month.

Gidding’s said the forefront of his platform is Bishopville’s dwindling youth population. If elected mayor, he hopes to not only bring young people back to Bishopville but incentivize them to stay and raise families.

He believes such a push would stimulate the local economy, therefore benefiting the predominantly older generation of storefront owners on bustling corridors, like Main St.

“I’m in here for the long run. Win or lose in this campaign, I’m not going anywhere. And I’ve told my opponents and voters that. This isn’t just about this campaign. I’m going to be here, I’ll be here the next round, and I’m going to be here until we make this a community that’s bigger, brighter, and better for everyone,” concluded Giddings.

Mayor Brown told WIS that when change is needed, change is great. He feels Bishopville is perfect as-is and doesn’t need the overhaul Gidding’s is proposing.

The mayor went on to say that young people need to get involved in politics. However, he believes a 20-year-old running for mayor is, “probably a bit too young.”

Early voting for Bishopville’s mayoral race starts Monday, April 24 at the Lee County Board of Voter Registration and Elections Office.

Four precincts will open to the public on Election Day, Tuesday, May 9. For dates, times and addresses, click here.

Notice a spelling or grammar error in this article? Click or tap here to report it. Please include the article's headline.

Stay up to date with WIS News 10. Get the app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store and Stream us on Roku, YouTube, Amazon Fire, or Apple TV.